Grumman E2C “ Hawkeye”
Contained in the Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was a provision for an the Coast Guard to form an air interdiction unit operating E2C aircraft. The Navy was to provide the aircraft and provide support facilities to operate the aircraft. Naval Air Station Norfolk was the designated naval support facility for E2C aircraft and became the initial site of CGAW1. A CGAS would later be established at St. Augustine, Florida for E2C operations
The E-2C Hawkeye is an all-weather, carrier-based tactical battle management airborne early warning command and control aircraft. The E-2 is a twin engine, five crewmember, high-wing turboprop aircraft with a 24-foot diameter radar rotodome attached to the upper fuselage. It is equipped with an electronically advanced radar package.
The E-2C was an ideal platform to initially acquire targets, closely control intercept aircraft, data link a “real time” picture to an operations center, and provide command/control services for other aircraft. Initially intercept missions were assigned by the South Florida Interdiction Center. When C3I became operational the E2Cs, COMLANTAREA assets “Chopped” to C3I for mission assignment and control. The Coast Guard modified a number of HU-25C aircraft for air intercept duty.
The E-2Cs were deployed to six foreign Forward Operating Bases in the Caribbean stretching from Belize to Carioca to Grenada. In addition many CONUS bases were routinely used as staging areas. Deployment locations were based on known methods of operation and intelligence information that was getting better and better. This type operation proved to be most effective. During the last year of operation E-2C aircraft were deployed 293 days out of the year. The Coast Guard E2C operation was discontinued on 22 November 1991.